Plans, projects and how-to's for home machinists

Jorgensen Steam

A model of Bernays's twin-cylinder steam engine (circa 1878), built by Bob Jorgensen

Pat Jorgensen recently posted a comment and I noticed that he had an interesting web site about steam engines.  So I invited Pat to be a guest blogger and to tell us more about himself and his site, Jorgensen Steam – Bob Jorgensen’s Steam Engines and Steam Engine Designs. — Rob

My story is that I am a professional engineer and run my own consulting firm in the Southeast USA.  My Dad (Bob Jorgensen) did most of the maintenance at his family lumber mill until he retired.  Since the lumber mill was originally powered by two large steam engines and associated boilers, Bob was intimately familiar with steam engines and such.  Being of a creative mind, Bob started making simple small toy oscillating steam engine models when he retired, and progressed to the point 12 years later where he had created from scratch (34) model steam engines, (3) hot air engines, (2) steam-powered bicycles, and a Stanley Locombile type steam automobile.

What Bob did not leave was a description of how he designed and machined all those engines and things, so my task since Bob’s death in 2006 has been to reverse engineer some of the engines that Bob built, and publish that information along with Bob Jorgensen’s original photographs and hand-drawn vellum sketches.

This process got me curious about steam engine design in general, so I began researching steam engines, and have a collection of about 1,000 old steam engine engravings on Bob’s website.

I also have gotten into steam engine animations, and can bring the engines of old back to life, like watching the actual engine run.  I am currently designing a twin-cylinder steam launch engine, and hope to built that some day.

So what started out as building a simple web site to share some of Bob’s photos has turned into quite a learning experience, and I continue to be surprised every day at the variety and complexity of the steam engines designed mostly in the 1800′s, and the sophistication of the engineers who did this work.  Luckily, there are a large number of public domain steam engine design books that can now be downloaded online in the US for free, and I have posted a list of about 100 of these titles on Bob’s website.  It is a fabulous story of technology from the past that changed and modernized our world in a huge way.

The smallest Stirling engine?

This is a follow-up to my last post about small Stirling engines. This video shows one that might be the world’s smallest.  It was made by Günter Bettinger, who has a web site which shows some of the very beautiful and interesting engines he’s made.   It’s in German, but you can see Google’s English translation of it here.   By the way, Günter is a paraplegic.

A couple of “micro” Stirlings

This is Jan Ridders’ newest Stirling engine.  It’s so small it uses a 1 Euro coin for the flywheel and a couple of 5 Euro cent pieces for the top and bottom plates of the displacer cylinder.   Jan will tell you that he got the idea for building a micro- engine from a Swiss artist who goes by the name “jovallmen” on YouTube.  His engine uses a couple of Swiss 5 centime coins and it may be even smaller than Jan’s.  You can see a video of it here.

As usual, you can get a set of free CAD drawings for this engine by visiting Jan’s web site and requesting a copy.

Jan Ridders’ Updated Flame Eater and “Scuderi” 4-stroke Engine Plans

Jan Ridders has updated plans on his web site for two of his favorite engines: a 2-cylinder flame eater and a Scuderi Split Cylinder internal combustion engine.The flame eater was one of the first engines that Jan drew up detailed plans for and one that has received a lot of interest since he first made it eight years ago.  He said the quality of these original plans was poor and in his spare time has updated the CAD drawings to make them clearer.  It was a project Jan said he almost scrapped because at the time he didn’t know much about what it took to get flame-eaters to run, but after building a vertical 1-cylinder engine he got the hang of it and picked this project up again.

The Scuderi Split Cylinder engine was another of Jan’s favorites, but after the plans raised design questions he decided to update the CAD drawings.  Jan found plans for it on the internet and then made some variations, like separating the two cylinders entirely. This is easy to make using mostly standard parts.

Jan features a number of other engines on his web site, which is available in both English and Dutch.  You can request a copy of his plans by sending him an email.

Random Quote

Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.

— Winston Churchill